I know I've probably opened up a "can of worms" with this topic, but it's one close to my heart. Our oldest son Michael is 13 yrs old and is high functioning autistic. I'm not going to go into his whole life story, but I wanted to share with you a few things. Just here recently he started to realize that he's got Autism and a brief understanding what that means. It's hard to explain to him exactly what Autism is, sometimes I feel like I'm not quite sure either.
Well, this past spring our daughter the youngest of three said something about Michael's Autism in front of him. The kids and I were in the car going to my youngest son's baseball game, when all of sudden she says..."Mommy I feel bad for Michael because of his Autism." The look on Michael's face broke my heart, and being the "Overprotective Mom" that I am I had to say something quick. Well, I asked her why she would say she felt bad for him? She told me again because of his Autism. I told her she didn't have to feel bad for Michael because his Autism makes him "Unique". She asked me..."Mommy, what does that word mean?" I told her unique means that Michael is one of a kind, and there isn't another Michael. I could tell she was still confused by the whole "Unique" answer. So, I tried another way of explaining it to her, to where she could understand a little better. I told her Michael's Autism is what makes Michael...Michael. I went on to explain that if Michael didn't have Autism he wouldn't be the Michael we know and love.
During this whole talk with our daughter, I kept looking at Michael and our youngest son was trying to make him feel better too. By the time I was done talking to our daughter I could see Michael wasn't as upset. I told her we shouldn't feel bad for Michael, and to remember his Autism makes him Michael.